Building a Growth Mindset Culture

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Building a Growth Mindset Culture

Ever heard of growth and fixed mindsets? If not and you are interested in leadership development, engagement and mental health and ultimately performance I would take a look.  Microsoft and their adoption of growth mindset principles enabled them to innovate and thus triple their revenue and double their profits, despite the intense competition from Google and Apple.

The benefits of growth mindset cultures can be significant:

  • Workers have 47% higher trust in their company
  • Workers are 34% more likely to feel a sense of ownership and commitment to the future of their company
  • Workers show 65% stronger agreement that their company supports risk-taking

(Dweck, C., Murphy, M., Chatman, J., & Kray, L. (n.d.). Why Fostering a Growth Mindset in Organizations Matters. In Senn Delaney. Retrieved from http://knowledge.senndelaney.com/docs/thought_papers/pdf/ stanford_agilitystudy_hart.pdf)

Supporting change 

They are of particular value to organisations in, or planning, a period of change, as it helps employees sit more comfortably with uncertainty, be more honest about their feelings of vulnerability and not feel fear when presenting ideas that might not be regarded positively. In the words of their CEO Satya Nadella, it turned them into a group of “know-it-alls” to “learn-it-alls”.

Why do growth mindsets matter? 

So why are our mindsets so important? Well, because growth mindsets

1) encourage us to tune into thoughts, to question their accuracy and helpfulness

2) recognise the need to stretch out of our comfort zones and

3) value connection within teams..where it becomes possible to fail without risk of humiliation and to present half an idea without fear of embarrassment.

I’ve just returned from delivering a couple of days training to leaders and mangers in Conwy on building a Growth Mindset workforce (the photo is of Conwy mountain…liked the image of the up and down…the journey we can go on when trying to make any changes which was the reason this client had requested the training).

It was good to work with a group so willing to embrace the ideas around building a growth mindset culture. They also taught me a lot about the vulnerabilities each and every person can at times experience when making changes. A growth mindset can really allow us to embrace that vulnerability rather than deny or avoid it.

So what is a growth mindset, and what is a fixed mindset?

Out knowledge of mindsets is based on over 35 years of research, much of it led by Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University. Fixed mindset thoughts are believing intelligence and talent are things we are born with. This leads to negative reactions to failure and less likelihood  of trying something new, now or in the future, for fear of failure or fear of not being seen to fail. In the workplace this can lead to covering up mistakes, blaming others and ignoring constructive feedback. If we have lots of fixed mindset thoughts we are easily threatened by others’ achievements which can lead to controlling behaviour, both in how we they handle and take credit for our own work and how we treat colleagues. The ramifications of a fixed mindset are poor for individual development as well as team cohesion and the culture of an organisation as a whole.

Growth mindset thoughts are about not fearing failure and being willing to put ourselves up for a challenge. There is the belief that with effort and support we all have the capacity to succeed, particularly when this is viewed as a chance to grow.

Growth Mindset research 

Dweck’s research has shown that when children read and learn about the brain; how malleable it is, and how it grows and changes when responding to a challenge; they are more likely to carry on and try again if they don’t succeed. This knowledge encourages them to have a thirst for learning, welcome a challenge, look for alternatives, value effort and not see failure as something permanent – in other words, they develop a growth mindset by tuning into their thoughts. In the workplace, those with a growth mindset believe talents and abilities can be developed, appreciate the value of mistakes and criticism; and thus pick themselves up to find a solution, seize challenges, and find the success of others inspiring rather than threatening.

Building a growth mindset culture 

Some of the areas you can focus on when helping build a growth mindset culture include:

  • How to empower employees to be more curious and constantly seek ways to improve how they carry out their role and achieve objectives.
  • What opportunities can the organisation offer that helps employees identify and build their strengths to achieve more
  • How can we help those that struggle with failure, who are too quick to say, “I can’t”, and don’t believe in the power of effort.
  • What enables employees to have the confidence to step outside their comfort zone and try new approaches
  • For leaders how do we encourage reflection on the benefits a growth mindset culture can bring to an organisation and whether an emphasis on striving for success could be inhibiting risk taking and hindering learning through fear of failure; rather than success evolving from failure and employees learning and developing from this.

I hope you found this post interesting. Please email or call if you would like to talk about we could work together to help build a growth mindset culture in your organisation.

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